KUALA NERUS: Azriman Ibrahim initially thought he was dealing with a baby fox when the uninvited ‘visitor’ first made an appearance at his home about a week ago.
The 27-year-old from Kampung Bukit Tumbuh, here, then realised it was actually an otter and a very friendly one at that.
When met at his home today, Azriman said he does not know who the male otter belongs to but it has been coming to his house for about a week and is getting more and more comfortable here.
"It has a tame and friendly attitude, just like a cat, and he keeps the whole family entertained, it also looks fine roaming around the compound," he said.
Calling his new visitor "Mikey", Azriman said he feeds the otter three times a day and it appears that "Mikey" enjoys eating cat food.
Azriman said "Mikey" however does not like raw fish, which is usually what an otter eats.
"Maybe this otter's owner trained it not to eat anything else but cat food," Azriman said.
He added that he already alerted the residents in the area about the otter, in case "Mikey" is someone's pet, but so far no one has come forth to claim it.
"I do not mind if the otter continues to stay in our compound, but if the owner wants it back, we have no objections," he said.
"This whole time of being in our compound, this otter has not caused any problems, it hasn't been a threat to anyone and has not harmed anyone.
"Usually it wold hide under the car but when we call it, it will come out asking for food while displaying its entertaining behaviour," Azriman said.
"It looks very tame but it is a bit difficult to hold it because it will avoid any attempts made to touch it," he added.
To Azriman, he prefers if the otter can live freely, like right now.
"If it is hungry, it can eat the cat food we prepare and if the otter wants to return to its natural habitat, it is free to do so anytime," he said.
Meanwhile, the Terengganu Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) deputy director Kamsul Alias said otters are fully protected wildlife and those who wish to keep them as pets require a special permit that is issued at the discretion of the ministry in charge.
"A person can be charged under Section 68(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 [Act 716] for hunting or keeping any fully protected wildlife if they keep such animals by way of caging. Upon conviction, a person can be fined not more than RM100,000 or jail of not more than three years or both," he said.
"If we receive information or complaints of otters being kept in cages, Perhilitan will not compromise and strict action will be taken against the owner," he added.